FCC Throws Scare Into PBS

The Federal Communications Commission’s increased scrutiny of broadcasters is of tremendous concern to the head of PBS. CEO Paula Kerger tells a gathering of TV writers that huge new fines are a big worry to public stations in particular. “We as an industry are very concerned when you have stations whose operating budgets are just a few million dollars,” she says. “The fines now can put stations out of business, and we cannot have that happen.” PBS also weighed in with a friend-of-the court brief in an appeal filed by a public television station in San Mateo, Calif. KCSM was fined $10,000 over its 2004 airing of a Martin Scorsese documentary that contained profanity. Regulators have created a lot of misunderstanding about what is and isn’t okay to air, she continues. That makes things difficult for the local station managers, who create their own schedules of PBS-supplied content. “We need to do a better job of letting the American people know this is not just about Janet Jackson,” she says. –

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